Oligomeric complexes of G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) are now commonly recognized and can provide a mechanism for regulation of signaling systems. Receptor oligomerization has been most extensively studied using coimmunoprecipitation and bioluminescence or fluorescence resonance energy-transfer techniques. Here, we have utilized decay of time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy of yellow fluorescent protein-labeled cholecystokinin receptor constructs to examine the state of oligomerization of this receptor in living cells. The rotational correlation times established that the cholecystokinin receptor is constitutively present in an oligomeric state that is dissociated in response to agonist occupation. In contrast, antagonist occupation failed to modify this signal, leaving the oligomeric structure intact. This dynamic technique complements the other biochemical and steady-state fluorescence techniques to establish the presence of oligomeric receptor complexes in living cells.
G protein–coupled receptors; cholecystokinin receptor; receptor oligomerization; time-resolved anisotropy; rotational dynamics
Aging human lens crystallins are progressively modified by yellow glycation, oxidation, and cross-linked carbonyl compounds that have deleterious properties on protein structure and stability. In order to test the hypothesis that some of these compounds originate from oxidized vitamin C, we have overexpressed the human vitamin C transporter 2 (hSCVT2) in the mouse lens. We find that levels of ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acid are highly elevated compared to the wild type and that the lenses have accumulated yellow color and advanced Maillard reaction products identical with those of the human lens. Treatment of the mice with nucleophilic inhibitors can slow down the process, opening new avenues for the pharmacological prevention of senile cataractogenesis.
glycation; ascorbic acid; crystallin; cross-linking; aging
Voluntary movement mediated by skeletal muscle relies on endplate acetylcholine receptors (AChR) to detect nerve-released ACh and depolarize themuscle fiber. Recent structural and mechanistic studies of the endplate AChR have catalyzed a leap in our understanding of the molecular steps in this chemical-to-electrical transduction process. Studies of acetylcholine binding protein (AChBP) give insight into ACh recognition, the first step in activation of the AChR. An atomic structural model of the Torpedo AChR at a resolution of 0.4 nm, together with single-ion channel recording methods, allow tracing of the link between the agonist binding event and gating of the ion channel, as well as determination of how the channel moves when it opens to allow flow of cations. Structural models of the human AChR enable precise mapping of disease-causing mutations, while studies of the speed with which single AChR channels open and close cast light on pathogenic mechanisms.
acetylcholine receptor; acetylcholine binding protein; agonist recognition; binding-gating coupling mechanism; congenital myasthenic syndrome
During the past five years many patients suffering from congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) have been identified worldwide and novel causative genes and mutations have been discovered. The disease genes now include those encoding each subunit of the acetylcholine receptor (AChR), the ColQ part of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), choline acetyltransferase, Nav 1.4, MuSK, and Dok-7. Moreover, emerging genotype-phenotype correlations are providing clues for targeted mutation analysis. This review focuses on the recent observations in selected CMS.
congenital myasthenic syndromes; acetylcholinesterase; choline acetyltransferase; acetylcholine receptor; Dok-7
Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare, multisystem disease affecting primarily premenopausal women. The disease is characterized by cystic lung disease, at times leading to respiratory compromise, abdominal tumors (in particular, renal angiomyolipomas), and involvement of the axial lymphatics (e.g., adenopathy, lymphangioleiomyomas). Disease results from the proliferation of neoplastic cells (LAM cells), which, in many cases, have a smooth muscle cell phenotype, express melanoma antigens, and have mutations in one of the tuberous sclerosis complex genes (TSC1 or TSC2). In the lung, LAM cells found in the vicinity of cysts are, at times, localized in nodules and may be responsible for cyst formation through the production of proteases. Lymphatic channels, expressing characteristic lymphatic endothelial cell markers, are found within the LAM lung nodules. LAM cells may also be localized within the walls of the axial lymphatics, and, in some cases, penetrate the wall and proliferate in the surrounding adipose tissue. Consistent with extensive lymphatic involvement in LAM, the serum concentration of VEGF-D, a lymphangiogenic factor, is higher in LAM patients than in healthy volunteers.
lymphangiogenesis; metastasis; lymphangioleiomyomatosis; VEGF-D; VEGF-C
A small but important proportion of patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) are refractory to conventional immunotherapy. We have treated 12 such patients by “rebooting” the immune system with high-dose cyclophosphamide (Hi Cy, 200 mg/kg), which largely eliminates the mature immune system, while leaving hematopoietic precursors intact. The objective of this report is to describe the clinical and immunologic results of Hi Cy treatment of refractory MG. We have followed 12 patients clinically for 1–9 years, and have analyzed their humoral and cellular immunologic parameters. Hi Cy is safe and effective. All but one of the patients experienced dramatic clinical improvement for variable periods from 5 months to 7.5 years, lasting for more than 1 year in seven of the patients. Two patients are still in treatment-free remission at 5.5 and 7.5 years, and five have achieved responsiveness to immunosuppressive agents that were previously ineffective. Hi Cy typically reduced, but did not completely eliminate, antibodies to the autoantigen AChR or to tetanus or diphtheria toxin; re-immunization with tetanus or diphtheria toxoid increased the antibody levels. Despite prior thymectomy, T cell receptor excision circles, generally considered to reflect thymic emigrant T cells, were produced by all patients. Hi Cy treatment results in effective, but often not permanent, remission in most refractory myasthenic patients, suggesting that the immune system is in fact “rebooted,” but not “reformatted.” We therefore recommend that treatment of refractory MG with Hi Cy be followed with maintenance immunotherapy.
myasthenia gravis; refractory MG; high-dose cyclophosphamide; Hi Cy; rebooting the immune system; TRECs; autoimmunity; immunotherapy
Tissue factor (TF), is a cellular receptor that binds the ligand factor VII/VIIa to initiate the blood coagulation cascade. In addition to its role as the initiator of the hemostatic cascade, TF is known to be involved in angiogenesis via an interaction with factor VIIa and protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2). In this article we review previous studies from our laboratory demonstrating that the pattern and level of TF expression is altered in multiple cell types derived from eutopic and ectopic endometrium from women with endometriosis compared with normal endometrium. We posit that the inflammatory environment that occurs in ectopic and eutopic endometrium from patients with disease results in high TF expression that in turn, signals via PAR-2 to further produce inflammatory cytokine or chemokine production and macrophage recruitment. Thus, our studies suggest that TF might be an ideal target for therapeutic intervention in endometriosis.
endometriosis; endometrium; tissue factor
Endometriosis is a common gynecological disorder that is defined by the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity. This disease often results in extensive morbidity, including chronic pelvic pain and infertility. The pathogenesis of endometriosis is likely multifactorial, and extensive investigation has explored the role of genetics, environmental factors, and the immune system in predisposing patients to developing endometriosis. A series of recent publications have described the identification of endometrial stem/progenitor cells. Such cells have long been speculated to function in the cyclic regeneration of the endometrium during the menstrual cycle and in the pathogenesis of several gynecological disorders. This narrative review will (i) examine the evidence for endometrial stem cells, (ii) examine their potential role in the pathogenesis of endometriosis, and (iii) identify important unanswered questions with suggestions for future investigation.
Endometrium; endometriosis; stem cells; bone marrow; uterus
In this review, we provide a comprehensive summary of noninvasive imaging modalities used clinically for the diagnosis of lymphatic diseases, new imaging agents for assessing lymphatic architecture and cancer status of lymph nodes, and emerging near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent optical imaging technologies and agents for functional lymphatic imaging. Given the promise of NIR optical imaging, we provide example results of functional lymphatic imaging in mice, swine, and humans, showing the ability of this technology to quantify lymph velocity and frequencies of propulsion resulting from the contractility of lymphatic structures.
lymph flow; NIR optical imaging; fluorescence; indocyanine green
The activation, expansion, and survival of regulatory T cells (Tregs) as well as the expression of their suppressive capacities result from distinct signaling pathways involving various membrane receptors and cytokines. Multiple studies have shown that thymus-derived naturally occurring Tregs constitutively express the forkhead/winged helix transcription factor FoxP3 in addition to high levels of CD25, the negative co-stimulatory molecule CTLA-4, and the glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor-related protein GITR. At variance, adaptive or induced Tregs acquire these phenotypic markers as they differentiate in the periphery, following adequate stimulation in the appropriate environment, together with their capacity to produce immunomodulatory cytokines (mainly, IL-4, IL-10 and TGF-β) and to display regulatory capacities. However, none of these molecules but FoxP3 are restricted to Tregs since they may also be expressed and upregulated on activated effector T cells. This explains why different hypotheses were proposed to interpret interesting reports showing that in vivo abrogation of CTLA-4 signaling using neutralizing CTLA-4 antibodies triggers different autoimmune or immune-mediated manifestations. Thus, an effect on pathogenic T cell effectors and/or Tregs has been proposed. Here we present and discuss recent results we obtained in the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of spontaneous autoimmune diabetes, arguing for a key role of CTLA-4 in the functional activity of Tregs. Moreover, data are presented that simultaneous blockade of CTLA4 and TGF-β further impairs immunoregulatory circuits that control disease progression.
CTLA-4; TGF-β; NOD; autoimmune diabetes; regulatory T cells
Ehrlichia canis is the etiologic agent of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME) and is a useful model for tick-borne zoonotic pathogens, many of which infect dogs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate rifampin and doxycycline regimens for clearance of E. canis infections in addition to alleviation of CME. Beagles were infected with E. canis by intravenous inoculation with carrier blood and treated with either rifampin or doxycycline after the acute phase of CME. Improved hematological values demonstrated that both treatments effectively relieved signs of the disease. Peripheral blood from all dogs became PCR-negative after antibiotic treatment, suggesting that these infections were eliminated and that rifampin is an effective alternative chemotherapeutic agent for treatment of CME.
Ehrlichia canis; Rhipicephalus sanguineus; ehrlichiosis; doxycycline; rifampin
An immunocompetent animal disease model based on infection with Ehrlichia chaffeensis would facilitate research toward understanding mechanisms responsible for the broad range of clinical signs associated with human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME). Adaptability to experimental feeding of various tick species and stages and to testing therapies comparable to those for human diseases are additional advantages of large animal models. Herein we summarize pathology reports for calves that developed fatal disease after experimental inoculation with E. chaffeensis. Elevated liver enzyme levels and lung pathology among these deceased calves corroborated earlier reports of severe HME. Thus, an experimental disease model based on infection of outbred immunocompetent hosts with E. chaffeensis could be within our grasp for the first time.
Ehrlichia chaffeensis; human monocytic ehrlichiosis; large animal disease model
Although drugs of abuse have different chemical structures and interact with different protein targets, all appear to usurp common neuronal systems that regulate reward and motivation. Addiction is a complex disease that is thought to involve drug-induced changes in synaptic plasticity due to alterations in cell signaling, gene transcription, and protein synthesis. Recent evidence suggests that drugs of abuse interact with and change a common network of signaling pathways that include a subset of specific protein kinases. The best studied of these kinases are reviewed here and include extracellular signal-regulated kinase, cAMP-dependent protein kinase, cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5, protein kinase C, calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, and Fyn tyrosine kinase. These kinases have been implicated in various aspects of drug addiction including acute drug effects, drug self-administration, withdrawal, reinforcement, sensitization, and tolerance. Identifying protein kinase substrates and signaling pathways that contribute to the addicted state may provide novel approaches for new pharma-cotherapies to treat drug addiction.
protein kinase; addiction; extracellular signal-regulated kinase; cAMP-dependent protein kinase; cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5; protein kinase C; calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II; Fyn tyrosine kinase
The multiligand receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) of the immunoglobulin superfamily is expressed onmultiple cell types implicated in the immune–inflammatory response and in atherosclerosis. Multiple studies have elucidated that ligand–RAGE interaction on cells, such as monocytes, macrophages, and endothelial cells, mediates cellular migration and upregulation of proinflammatory and prothrombotic molecules. In addition, recent studies reveal definitive rules for RAGE in effective T lymphocyte priming in vivo. RAGE ligand AGEs may be formed in diverse settings; although AGEs are especially generated in hyperglycemia, their production in settings characterized by oxidative stress and inflammation suggests that these species, in part via RAGE, may contribute to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. In murine models of atherosclerosis, vascular inflammation is a key factor and one which is augmented, in parallel with even further increases in RAGE ligands, in diabetic macrovessels. The findings that antagonism and genetic disruption of RAGE in atherosclerosis-susceptible mice strikingly reduces vascular inflammation and atherosclerotic lesion area and complexity link RAGE intimately to these processes and suggest that RAGE is a logical target for therapeutic intervention in aberrant inflammatory mechanisms and in atherosclerosis.
receptor for advanced glycation end products; inflammation; atherosclerosis; adaptive immunity; T cell priming
Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction have been closely associated in many subcellular, cellular, animal, and human studies of both acute brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases. Our animal models of brain injury caused by cardiac arrest illustrate this relationship and demonstrate that both oxidative molecular modifications and mitochondrial metabolic impairment are exacerbated by reoxygenation of the brain using 100% ventilatory O2 compared to lower levels that maintain normoxemia. Numerous molecular mechanisms may be responsible for mitochondrial dysfunction caused by oxidative stress, including oxidation and inactivation of mitochondrial proteins, promotion of the mitochondrial membrane permeability transition, and consumption of metabolic cofactors and intermediates, e.g., NAD(H). Moreover, the relative contribution of these mechanisms to cell injury and death is likely different among different types of brain cells, e.g., neurons and astrocytes. In order to better understand these oxidative stress mechanisms and their relevance to neurologic disorders, we have undertaken studies with primary cultures of astrocytes and neurons exposed to O2 and glucose deprivation and reoxygenation and compared the results of these studies to those using a rat model of neonatal asphyxic brain injury. These results support the hypothesis that release and or consumption of mitochondrial NAD(H) is at least partially responsible for respiratory inhibition, particularly in neurons.
pyruvate dehydrogenase; respiration; nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide
The biochemistry of acetogenesis is reviewed. The microbes that catalyze the reactions that are central to acetogenesis are described and the focus is on the enzymology of the process. These microbes play a key role in the global carbon cycle, producing over 10 trillion kilograms of acetic acid annually. Acetogens have the ability to anaerobically convert carbon dioxide and CO into acetyl-CoA by the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway, which is linked to energy conservation. They also can convert the six carbons of glucose stoichiometrically into 3 mol of acetate using this pathway. Acetogens and other anaerobic microbes (e.g., sulfate reducers and methanogens) use the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway for cell carbon synthesis. Important enzymes in this pathway that are covered in this review are pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase, CO dehydrogenase/acetyl-CoA synthase, a corrinoid iron-sulfur protein, a methyltransferase, and the enzymes involved in the conversion of carbon dioxide to methyl-tetrahydrofolate.
acetogenic bacteria; carbon dioxide fixation; carbon monoxide; cobalamin
Selye’s pioneer the concept of biological stress in 1936 culminating to the identification of the corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) signaling pathways by Vale’s group in the last two decades. The characterization of the 41 amino-acid CRF and other peptide members of the mammalian CRF family, urocortin 1, urocortin 2 and urocortin 3, the cloning of CRF1 and CRF2 receptors, which display distinct affinity for CRF ligands, combined with the development of selective CRF receptor antagonists enable to unravel the importance of CRF1 receptor in the stress-related endocrine (activation of pituitary-adrenal axis), behavioral (anxiety/depression, altered feeding), autonomic (activation of sympathetic nervous system) and immune responses. The activation of CRF1 receptors is also part of key mechanisms through which various stressors impact the gut to stimulate colonic propulsive motor function and to induce hypersensitivity to colorectal distension as shown by the efficacy of the CRF1 receptor antagonists in blunting these stress-related components. The importance of CRF1 signaling pathways in the visceral response to stress in experimental animals provided new therapeutic approaches for treatment of functional bowel disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome, a multifactor functional disorder characterized by altered bowel habits and visceral pain for which stress has been implicated in the pathophysiology and is associated with anxiety-depression in subset of patients.
CRF; CRF receptor; CRF antagonists; colonic motor function; irritable bowel syndrome; stress
Hemispatial neglect (HSN) is a frequent, conspicuous neurobehavioral accompaniment of brain injury. Patients with HSN share several superficial similarities, leading earlier clinical neuroscientists to view neglect as a unitary condition associated with brain structures that mediate relatively discrete spatial cognitive mechanisms. Over the last two decades, research largely deconstructed the neglect syndrome, revealing a remarkable heterogeneity of behaviors and providing insight into multiple component processes, both spatial and nonspatial, that contribute to hemispatial neglect. This review surveys visual HSN, presenting first the means for detection and diagnosis in its manifold variations. We summarize cognitive operations relevant to spatial attention and evidence for their role in neglect behaviors and then briefly consider neural systems that may subserve the component processes. Finally, we propose several methods for rehabilitating HSN, including the challenges facing remediation of such a heterogeneous cognitive disorder.
Neglect, Hemispatial; Spatial attention, orienting, alerting; Rehabilitation
The lymphatic circulation appears to be a vital component in lung biology in health and in disease. Animal models have established the role of the lymphatic circulation in neoplastic and inflammatory diseases of the lung, such as asthma and cancer, and allowed for the understanding of the molecular controls of lymphangiogenesis in normal lung development. Understanding the role of lymphatics in human lung disease appears likely to contribute to the understanding of the pathogenesis of disease and the development of novel therapeutic targets.
lymphangiogenesis; metastasis; lymphangiectasis; lymphangioleiomyomatosis; VEGF-D; VEGF-C
Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is an evolutionarily well conserved neuropeptide with multiple functions in the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. PACAP provides neuroprotection from ischemia and toxin exposure, is anti-inflammatory in gastric inflammatory disease and sepsis, controls proliferative signaling pathways involved in neural cell transformation, and modulates glucohomeostasis. PACAP-based, disease-targeted therapeutics might thus be both effective and benign, enhancing homeostatic responses to behavioral, metabolic, oncogenic, and inflammatory stressors. PACAP signal transduction employs synergistic regulation of calcium and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), and noncanonical activation of both calcium- and cAMP-dependent processes. Pharmacological activation of PACAP signaling should consequently have highly specific effects even in vivo. Here, a combined cellular biochemical, pharmacologic, transcriptomic, and bioinformatic approach to understanding PACAP signal transduction by identifying PACAP target genes with oligonucleotide- and cDNA-based microarray is described. Calcium- and cAMP-dependent PACAP signaling pathways for regulation of genes encoding proteins required for neuritogenesis, changes in cell morphology, and cell survival have been traced in PC12 cells. Pharmacological experiments have linked gene expression to cell physiological responses in this system, in which gene silencing can also be employed to confirm the functional significance of induction of specific transcripts. Differential transcriptional responses to metabolic, ischemic, and other stressors in wild type compared to PACAP-deficient mice establish in principle which PACAP-responsive transcripts in culture are PACAP-dependent in vivo. Bioinformatic approaches aid in creating a pipeline for identifying neuropeptide-regulated genes, validating their cellular functions, and defining their expression in the context of neuropeptide signaling physiology, required for discovery of new targets for drug action.
bioinformatics; gene discovery; microarray; neuropeptide; neuroprotection; PACAP; PC12; pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide; signal transduction; stress response
A major challenge for neurological therapeutics is the development of small molecule drugs that can activate a panoply of downstream pathways without toxicity. Over the past decade our group has shown that a family of enzymes that regulate posttranscriptional and transcriptional adaptive responses to hypoxia are viable targets for neuronal protection and repair. The family is a group of iron, oxygen, and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases, known as the HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylases (HIF PHDs). We have previously shown that pluripotent protection offered by iron chelators is mediated, in part, via the ability of these agents to inhibit the HIF PHDs. Our group and others have implicated the transcriptional activator HIF-1 in some of the salutary effects of iron chelation-induced PHD inhibition. While some iron chelators are currently employed in humans for conditions such as hemochromatosis, the diverse utilization of iron in physiological processes in the brain makes the development of HIF activators that do not bind iron a high priority. Here we report the development of a high throughput screen to develop novel HIF activators and/or PHD inhibitors for therapeutic use in the central nervous system (CNS). We show that tilorone, a low-molecular weight, antiviral, immunomodulatory agent is the most effective activator of the HIF pathway in a neuronal line. We also show that tilorone enhances HIF protein levels and increases the expression of downstream target genes independent of iron chelation and HIF PHD inhibition in vitro. We further demonstrate that tilorone can activate an HIF-regulated reporter gene in the CNS. These studies confirm that tilorone can penetrate the blood–brain barrier to activate HIF in the CNS. As expected from these findings, we show that tilorone provides effective prophylaxis against permanent ischemic stroke and traumatic spinal cord injury in male rodents. Altogether these findings identify tilorone as a novel and potent modulator of HIF-mediated gene expression in neurons with neuroprotective properties.
homeostasis; hypoxia; hypoxia inducible factor; iron; hypoxia response element; erythropoietin; vascular endothelial growth factor; tilorone; desferrioxamine; prolyl hydroxylase
In response to stress, some people lose while others gain weight. This is believed to be due to either increased β-adrenergic activation, the body’s main fat-burning mechanism, or increased intake of sugar- and fat-rich “comfort foods.” A high-fat, high-sugar (HFS) diet alone, however, cannot account for the epidemic of obesity, and chronic stress alone tends to lower adiposity in mice. Here we discuss how chronic stress, when combined with an HFS diet, leads to abdominal obesity by releasing a sympathetic neurotransmitter, neuropeptide Y (NPY), directly into the adipose tissue. In vitro, when “stressed” with dexamethasone, sympathetic neurons shift toward expressing more NPY, which stimulates endothelial cell (angiogenesis) and preadipocyte proliferation, differentiation, and lipid-filling (adipogenesis) by activating the same NPY-Y2 receptors (Y2Rs). In vivo, chronic stress, consisting of cold water or aggression in HFS-fed mice, stimulates the release of NPY and the expression of Y2Rs in visceral fat, increasing its growth by 50% in 2 weeks. After 3 months, this results in metabolic syndrome-like symptoms with abdominal obesity, inflammation, hyperlipidemia, hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance, hepatic steatosis, and hypertension. Remarkably, local intra-fat Y2R inhibition pharmacologically or via adenoviral Y2R knock-down reverses or prevents fat accumulation and metabolic complications. These studies demonstrated for the first time that chronic stress, via the NPY-Y2R pathway, amplifies and accelerates diet-induced obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Our findings also suggest the use of local administration of Y2R antagonists for treatment of obesity and NPY-Y2 agonists for fat augmentation in other clinical applications.
neuropeptide Y; obesity; stress; Y2 receptors; sympathetic system; adipogenesis; angiogenesis; metabolic syndrome
The basic biology of the menstrual cycle is a complex, coordinated sequence of events involving the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary, ovary, and endometrium. The menstrual cycle with all its complexities can be easily perturbed by environmental factors such as stress, extreme exercise, eating disorders, and obesity. Furthermore, genetic influences such as fragile X premutations (Chapter X), X chromosome abnormalities (Chapter X), and galactose-1-phosphate uridyltransferase (GALT) point mutations (galactosemia) also contribute to perturbations of the menstrual cycle. Although not perfect, mouse model have helped to identify and confirm additional components and pathways in menstrual cycle function and dysfunction in humans.
Biology; menstrual cycle; mouse models; premature ovarian insufficiency (POI); genetics; endometriosis; folliculogenesis